Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

November 20 to December 4, 2020

Attention Anglers: Due to recent damages and associated safety concerns, the DEC Dunkirk Harbor fishing platform, located on west end of harbor, is CLOSED until further notice. The Dunkirk City Pier remains open.

Fishing Under PAUSE

You can still go fishing under the Governor's PAUSE Executive Order. However, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, we ask that you please act safely when fishing. Do not crowd access sites. If you arrive at an angler access area that is congested, consider finding another area that is less crowded or consider fishing another day. When you're on the water, please make sure there is ample room between you and your fellow anglers. Don't share a boat unless it is large enough so that all persons aboard can always remain at a minimum distance of six feet apart. Providing ample distance helps to reduce the spread of colds, flu and COVID-19 and also contributes to an overall better angling experience. When boating and fishing, DEC and State Parks recommend New Yorkers to #RecreateLocal, avoid busy waters and follow the guidelines for Recreating Safely and Responsibly in New York State.

Lake Erie & Tributaries

Cattaraugus Creek has been at a ideal fishing level for more days than usual this fall and steelhead fishing has been quite good. The Catt is currently running a bit high at about 690 cubic feet per second (cfs). The ideal flow range on the Catt is between 250-500 cfs. Monitor USGS Lake Erie Tributary discharge rates at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ny/nwis/rt. Other popular Erie tribs have fished well when flows are up, but fish have had severe lockjaw during frequent low and clear periods. Eighteenmile Creek and the Chautauqua County streams are currently in prime shape with moderate flows. Remaining snowmelt in the hills should help to sustain flows into the weekend. Without additional rain, expect levels to drop back to low over next few days. Lake Erie steelhead commonly hit natural baits like egg sacs or worms, trout beads, flies including egg imitations, black stone flies, nymphs, streamer and bugger patters, and lures such as minnow-type stickbaits, in-line spinners and small spoons. For those new to steelhead fishing, see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page.

Trolling the outside of the Buffalo Harbor south and north breakwalls and Donnelly's wall has been producing decent walleye catches at night. Trolling stickbaits in 10-15 feet of water works well.

Niagara River

The month of November is traditionally a top time to target muskellunge in the upper Niagara River. Target musky by casting large stickbaits or by drifting and jigging large (8"-10") tube jigs. Trolling around the outer Buffalo Harbor and breakwall gaps can produce a musky catch as well. Muskellunge season closes after November 30th on the upper river and Lake Erie.

Lower river waters were heavily stained at the start of the week, and today's high winds will prolong the turbid conditions. Look for improved conditions at least a couple days after high winds have exited the area this evening. The shoreline bite will be the first to pick back up. Prior to the high wind events, fishing had been pretty good for a mix of steelhead, smallmouth bass and incidentally caught lake trout, along with the occasional brown trout. Lake trout season is closed, so incidentally caught lakers must be promptly released. The Artpark drift was fishing very well, with trout beads as top producer. Three-way rigs with egg sacs and live shiners will also catch fish. Shore anglers have seen decent to good action for the same mix of fish along the gorge State Parks. Smallmouth bass are available throughout the river. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River

Lake Ontario Tributaries

Eighteenmile, Johnson, Oak Orchard and Sandy Creeks have benefited from Erie Canal water discharges, and are good options this weekend. Eighteenmile Creek has seen its best flow rates of the season over the past week, and trout fishing was good. Oak Orchard Creek has moderate flow with a slight stain. Brown trout are now the dominant catch at the Oak, with fair number of steelhead around too. There are some weathered king salmon about, but the occasional fresh king turns up. Oak anglers also have a chance for the odd Atlantic salmon catch. Johnson and Sandy creeks have moderate to slightly low flows, and have a scattered mix of trout. All other Niagara and Orleans County tributaries are low and clear. For those new to tributary salmon fishing see the Pacific Salmon Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries page.

Chautauqua Lake

Crappie have been showing in shallow areas around structure and green weeds. Any places where crappie typically school up in spring, is also worth a shot in fall. Small minnows or tube jigs work well for crappie. No new intel available for walleye or muskellunge. In fall, walleye can typically be found around weedbeds and also in the deeper holes of the north basin. Vertical jigging works well in the deep holes. Anglers have 10 days left to target muskellunge before the season closes after November 30th. Trolling or casting large stickbaits and musky spinners along weed edges is a good bet. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Surplus Broodstock Trout Stocking

DEC Randolph Fish Hatchery completed their annual fall stocking of broodstock trout in select Allegany and Cattaraugus County waters. All stocked brown, rainbow and brook trout broodstock are over 2 years old and are stocked in waters where trout fishing is permitted all year. During the week of October 15th, Quaker Lake, Red House Lake, Case Lake, Harwood Lake, New Albion Lake and Allen Lake were stocked. During the week of October 21st, Case Lake, Quaker Lake received a second stocking and the Genesee River was stocked between Wellsville and the PA line.

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; fwfish9@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.